Gstaad, Switzerland, July 9, 2016 - Beijing 2008 Olympic champion Phil Dalhausser made a successful return to his native Switzerland here Saturday as he and American partner Nick Lucena won three-straight elimination matches to advance to Sunday’s “final four” contests in the US$800,000 Gstaad Major.
Joining the second-seeded Americans in the semi-finals Sunday morning will be sixth-seeded Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Janis Smedins of Latvia, seventh-seeded Pablo Herrera/Adrian Gavira of Spain and 11th-seeded Evandro Goncalves/Pedro Salgado of Brazil. Dalhausser will play the Latvians in the first semi-final Saturday followed by the Spain vs. Brazil confrontation as the “final four” pairs compete for the $57,000 first-place prize.
Dalhausser and Lucena, who started playing together last August, hold a 2-1 edge in the series with Samoilovs and Smedins after the Americans won the last meeting with a 2-0 (21-19, 21-13) semi-final win in 36 minutes at the April’s Fuzhou Open in China. Evandro and Pedro have won three of five matches with the Spaniards with Gavira and Herrera winning the last match 2-0 (21-15, 30-28) in a 41-minute elimination match last month at the smart Major Hamburg.
Due to an abdominal strain, Dalhausser could not defend his 2014 Gstaad gold medal with previous partner as the two-time Olympians was sidelined for nearly two months before returning to the FIVB World and teaming with Lucena to make a successful run to the Rio 2016 Summer Games.
“It is great to back playing in Gstaad,” said Dalhausser after his second of three victories with Lucena on the Swiss Alps village center court. “My parents are here along with other family members. This is the best site on the FIVB World Tour and I was disappointed missing last year’s event. Hopefully, I’ll be around Sunday to play for a medal.”
After losing their final Pool B match Friday to Juan Virgen and Lombardo Ontiveros of Mexico to finish second in their group, Dalhausser and Lucena had to win three matches Saturday to advance to the semi-finals for 11th-time in 17 FIVB World Tour starts together.
The Americans opened play Saturday with a 2-0 (21-14, 21-16) win in 32 minutes over 29th-seeded qualifiers Francisco Alfredo Marco/Christian Garcia of Spain before advancing to the late afternoon quarter-finals with a 2-0 (21-18, 21-19) win in 37 minutes over ninth-seeded Paolo Nicolai/Daniele Lupo of Italy.
To reach the semi-finals, Dalhausser and Lucena ousted 19th-seeded Alvaro Filho/Vitor Felipe of Brazil 2-0 (21-13, 21-17) in a 32-minute quarter-final mach. To reach the SWATCH Major Series event’s “elite eight”, Alvaro and Vitor ousted top-seeded compatriots and defending Gstaad Major champions Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt 2-1 (27-25, 16-21, 17-15) in 58 minutes.
Like their American opponents, Samoilovs and Smedins also had to win three matches Saturday over pairs that have qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with the Latvians. After ousting 13th-seeded Markus Bockermann/Lars Fluggen of Germany 2-0 (21-16, 21-15) in 34 minutes, and third-seeded Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen of The Netherlands 2-0 (21-18, 21-19) in 36 minutes, Samoilovs and Smedins posted a 2-0 (21-17, 21-19) win in 40 minutes over fifth-seeded Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson of the United States.
Both the Spaniards and Brazilians played only two matches Saturday after winning their pools Friday to secure “byes” for the first-round of elimination. Gavira and Herrera opened play Saturday with a 2-1 (21-15, 18-21, 17-15) win in 43 minutes over 18th-seeded qualifiers Gustavo Carvalhaes/Saymon Barbosa of Brazil before eliminating 16th-seeded Alex Ranghieri/Adrian Carambula of Italy 2-0 (21-18, 21-18) in a 34-minute quarter-final match.
Evandro and Pedro, who had not reached a FIVB semi-final in their last five world tour events since placing second in March’s Rio Grand Slam on Copacabana, reached Sunday’s schedule with a 2-1 (21-23, 21-18, 15-9) win in 46 minutes over 12th-seeded Reinder Nummerdor/Christiaan Varenhorst of The Netherlands. The Brazilians opened play Saturday with a 2-0 (21-12, 21-15) win in 38 minutes over eighth-seeded Nico Beeler/Alexei Strasser of Switzerland.